Sometimes you have to visit a few seedy places to find a bargain.
You start out at Tiffany’s, of course. Your first round selection is an impeccably polished and set diamond, maybe something from the Pittsburgh Penguins line or the Philadelphia Flyers collection. The second round sees you browsing the more-than-respectable goods at Zales and picking out a lovely Detroit Red Wing ruby or Vancouver Canuck sapphire. But eventually, as rounds seven and eight come around, you have to start thinking a little more lowbrow. It’s Zeke’s Jewelry Trough time – or, scarier still, Edmonton Oilers time.
Sift carefully through the bins, though, and you can find some promising uncut stones in amongst the hideous plastic baubles. Terrible teams always have one valuable asset that the great teams lack: High-quality draftees. The Oilers, for instance, are loaded with promising young talent, so much so that they’re starting to look a bit like the Penguins and Blackhawks teams that went from bottom-dwellers to Cup winners seemingly overnight. While young Oilers like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and sophomore-to-be Ryan Nugent-Hopkins haven’t exactly gone unnoticed, all three will likely still be available in round four. And future Oiler Nail Yakupov, the first overall pick in last month’s draft, will fall much, much further.
Brand-new draftees have no NHL stats to analyze and are often unaccounted for in fantasy pre-draft rankings. As round after round goes by, people forget about the newbies or have to forgo them in order to fill necessary positions. The kids slip thought the cracks, yours for the taking. Best of all, the risk in picking a new NHL draftee isn’t as high as you think, as long as you follow a few simple guidelines.
1. NEVER select a newly-drafted goalie. If you don’t know that already, though, then fantasy hockey might not be the game for you.
2. Beware the draftees of successful NHL clubs. Good teams can afford to let their prospects develop in the minor leagues or go back to junior hockey for the season; this is excellent for long-term good of the player, but it makes him a useless fantasy pick.
3. Do some reading. Start at the bottom of the standings, and check up on the kids’ progress in training camp. The first round of this year’s NHL draft was heavy on defensemen, so you’ll want to find out who those guys are likely to be paired with and whether they’ve been practicing with the power play unit.
4. Don’t put too much stock in junior or college hockey stats. The seasons are shorter, the coaches allocate ice time differently, the quality of the goalies varies wildly, etc. etc. etc. Last year’s numbers mean far less than does this year’s camp.
5. Stay away from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Rick Nash is trying his level best to heed this advice, and so should you.